Kristin Beck was a part of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, the fabled unit that was ultimately responsible for Osama bin Laden's death. She served for 20 years and underwent 13 deployments. She was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for her decades of service. But during this time, Kristin wasn't known as Kristin — she was Chris Beck, a transgender woman who had to suppress her identity to serve in the military.
In her new biography, "Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender," (which is, by the way, is an awesome book title, especially because you can't not think about Xena every time you read it), Beck speaks about the decades of struggle she faced as a member of the military, growing a bushy beard instead of wearing women's clothing like she wanted. After retiring in 2011, Beck began dressing as she wished, curling her blonde hair, changing her name on LinkedIn and posting photos of herself in front of the American flag.
Beck's SEAL Team friends weren't just accepting of her transition, but warmly supported her new identity. One wrote:
"…I just wanted to drop a note and tell you that Kris has all the support and respect from me that Chris had… and quite possible more. While I'm definitely surprised, I'm also in amazement at the strength you possess and the courage necessary to combat the strangers and 'friends' that I'm guessing have reared their ugly heads prior to and since your announcement…"
Despite the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, transgender servicemembers are still banned from the military. The LGBT movement often overlooks transgender issues that tend to get sidestepped for gay and lesbian rights. The overwhelming relief that gay servicemembers felt two years ago when the backwards policy was repealed wasn't shared by the transgender members of the military, who are still forced to serve in secret. For a member of one of the most elite military units to come out as transgender, and with overwhelming support from her team members, puts a face to the largely ignored issue of transgendered people in the military.
After retiring, Beck wrote:
"Sitting in my back yard or at my fishpond, Ino longer feel anger, resentment or depression. I feel peace. I want to give this option of a 'peace garden' to my veteran brothers and sisters."
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